Positive Vision - Day 20
Rabbi Avrohom Neuberger
Our weekly excerpt from the book "Positive Vision"
Day 21 - “Bittersweet” - Climbing Out of Depression
The Tanya suggests a fascinating way to turn negative emotions into a positive force.
He notes that there are two types of negative emotions, depression (atzvus) and bitterness (merirus). They seem, at first, closely related but are, in fact, miles apart.
Suppose a man decides to open a store. He puts up his savings, gathers investors, and expends immense time and effort to get the venture underway. The expenses - renting the facility, buying inventory, and advertising - are considerable. Opening day arrives and a few curious passersby walk in but show no real interest in his merchandise. Day after day, he waits in the store with debts rising and the inventory just sitting there.
How does he react?
He becomes bitter and depressed. Right?
Wrong, says the Tanya. He can become either bitter or depressed.
The essential difference is this: While both emotions are negative, bitterness is associated with life, whereas depression is associated with death.
A depressed person turns the negative emotion inward. He thinks, “I am just a loser. Whatever I touch turns bad. There’s no hope.” He sits around and mopes. Eventually he stops showing up at the store and stays in bed. He loses all energy and is dead to the world.
A bitter person, on the other hand, turns the negative emotions outward. He uses his negative emotions as a motivator. “I am upset about the situation and I am going to change it. I am doing something wrong! I am going to identify and correct it.” His bitterness motivates him to action and change. His energy level
increases and he becomes more alive.
The trick then is to turn depression into bitterness.
Let’s say you fell off the wagon - the yetzer hara got the best of you and you stumbled. Don’t get depressed. Don’t allow yourself to think, “I am such a loser.” Pull yourself up, get into the driver’s seat and create more safeguards and positive behaviors to keep yourself moving. Say to yourself, “I am not putting up with this anymore! I am not allowing myself to live a life I am not proud of. I refuse to go through life without doing what I know is right. I am going to do something to prevent this from happening again!”
Your negative feeling that was feeding the deadness of depression can be transformed into a source of action, life, and the energy to change.